Jordin Tootoo has had a rough road to travel through life. But he has used his platform as a National Hockey League player to give back to those in need and make a difference in the world around him.
It is because of this that the Devils have nominated him for the 2015-16 NHL Foundation Player Award. He has battled substance abuse and has endured the 2002 suicide of his older brother Terence but he has turned those negatives into positives by helping to educate at-risk youth and help those in the community.
As he put it in the press release the Devils put out on the nomination: “Growing up in the North in a lot of these isolated communities, I give people a better thought process as to how life is. Everyone deals with their own problems in certain ways, but I think if you’re comfortable in your own skin, people open up. This is a big thing that’s been happening in the North. It’s an epidemic. If I can help one person, that’s great.”
He does all of this through a charitable group called Team Tootoo. Team Tootoo assists “charities that address suicide awareness and prevention and youth at risk.” The foundation, started in 2011 when Tootoo was still with the Nashville Predators, works with groups like the Jason Foundation (dedicated to providing education of students, educators and parents on awareness and prevention of youth suicide), STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand – committed to preventing, intervening and treating bullying, substance abuse and violence), OasisCenter (works with at-risk youth) and The Sports Fund of the Community Foundation of Tennessee (supports nonprofits involved in coaching and tutoring kids and supporting youth in sports).
Tootoo discussed why he decided to get involved with the community: “We started the whole project after my brother passed away and we wanted to raise awareness for suicide prevention and youth at risk. With suicide, you’ll never know the answers. We educate youth about it and give them the opportunity to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Devils’ press release discusses Tootoo’s roots and how that informed his decision to help those at risk for suicide. He grew up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut (about 1,000 miles north of Winnipeg) and is the first and currently only player of Inuk blood in the NHL.
The press release mentions that Tootoo comes back to Rankin Inlet each offseason in order to share his story. He recently celebrated five years of sobriety in December and uses that as motivation to mentor the youth of Nunavut. He also uses his role as an NHL player to help combat domestic violence locally and across Canada.
Tootoo said, “After I really looked after myself, I wanted to make sure that I was going to have time to be involved more. I thought it was my calling to raise awareness about it. At the end of the day, it’s about picking people up and making them realize that they’re brought into this world for a reason. Life’s too short – you want to enjoy every day.”
Congratulations to Jordin Tootoo on this nomination. He truly exemplifies the spirit of the award which is to apply the core values of hockey to enrich the lives of people in his community.
To learn more about Team Tootoo, please visit www.s.vancouverfoundation.ca/TeamTootoo/donateonline.asp.